Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kenai Fjords Wildlife and Glacier Cruise

We were up bright and early in order to get a "preferred parking place" for Minnie Mee in the parking lot. Probably most of the people here are here by RV and there are a lot of restricted parking lots. It's understandable because if rigs too long park in the parking lots, it makes it difficult and nearly impossible to get around them. But we do need parking places for us. So we looked around the night before in order to find where we wanted to park. We were able to park in a lot about 1 1/2 blocks away from our ferry dock, so that worked.

We were ready early, so we decided instead of waiting in the campground and driving down later, we would drive down, get our parking spot, and wait there. Tab and Deanna must have thought the same thing because they arrived before we were even completely parked. The guys walked over and got our boarding passes and confirmed our departure dock, then came back and got Deanna and I. We visited a couple shops before we boarded our boat.

Once on our boat, we had assigned tables, but not seats. We weren't there long before we heard some commotion from the front. Seems that an oriental/asian woman was out buying snacks and had "previously reserved" 6 out of 8 seats at a table up front. Now the seats were not reservable but she started screaming (and I do mean screaming) at this elderly couple who had arrived. . . and with no one at the table, sat one against the window and one next to that one. This woman kept screaming at them that she had reserved those seats and they must move. They refused. The screaming woman was the only one of her party there and she had one pamphlet on one seat and that was to indicate she had set aside SIX seats? I don't think so. If you've ever been on a boat/wildlife/glacier cruise, you know that most of the time you are up out of your seat anyway. This woman made such a scene. The gentleman who remained very calm and tried to explain that they were assigned to the table as well, but she kept ranting at him. He finally went and got a boat employee who tried to reason with the woman. Sad to say, they asked the elderly couple to move. I don't know if they comped their voyage but what they should have done was escorted the offending screamer off the boat. Most every business has signs posted that they can refuse service to anyone and they should have refused her. In fact, I wrote that on my comment sheet. She ruined the voyage for those people (but they surely would not have wanted to stay in those seats at the same table with her), but ruined the calm start to our trip.

Anyway, we got underway, and suffice to say. . . it was a beautiful sunny day, albeit a bit foggy, but we saw lots of wildlife. We started with humpback whales and Dall porpoise. If you've every photographed wildlife, you know if it's grazing, you may get a good shot. When it's speeding through the water moving up and down, it is a little more than difficult. So I got very few good shots. I stole some from Tab because he is a little more experienced with this.

The humpbacks swim just under the surface and occasionally you will see one blow. The Dall porpoise are similar in color to the orca or killer whaler, but are much smaller, play/race at the front of the boat and just speed along making it difficult to do anything but marvel at their antics. Later we saw more humpbacks and I actually got sort of a tail shot, but it was from far away. We also saw a very large pod of killer whales. There was one very large bull with a huge dorsal fin. I did get some good pictures of these because they seemed to cooperate.

We also got to see puffins. These were the tufted puffins. There is also a "horned" puffin which is my favorite, but they are interesting little birds. They don't let you get very close, but I got one shot that clearly shows the bird. In the same area, we got to see some stellar sea lions. They were hunted to near extinction and now through conservation have managed to come back and repopulate their previous territory. So it was exciting to see them.

The curious little sea otter is amazing. They float on their backs in groups called "rafts" and look like they live the live of leisure. It almost looks like they are connected, but they aren't. . . they probably are in groups for safety.

Ahhhh, the glaciers. We saw two large glaciers up close and several other smaller ones in between. We saw some "calving" going on, which is when section of the glacial ice break off the glacier and falls into the water. We mostly saw small parts, which actually looked like waterfalls, but it was ice falling off and literally disintegrating into powder as it fell. Large chunks of ice floated in the fjord as we poked through for a close up of the glacier. They truly are beautiful and just like pictures I have seen. The ice deep inside is blue, which I have read indicates a lack of oxygen in the ice. This happens as the ice ages, so the blue ice would be very, very old. The two largest glaciers we saw were the Holgate and the Aialik. We traveled about 120 miles in our boat, which was a catamaran.


We continue to use our "toursaver coupon" book. If you are planning a trip to Alaska, it is worth your money to purchase this book for $99. There are hundreds of coupons in it for "buy one get one free" offers and yesterday's tour was one of those. The tour was $169 per adult and that is all we paid for two people. Today we are going to the aquarium and it costs $20. We have a 2 for 1 coupon for that as well. We have used it at many places and have so far saved several times what we paid for the book. So check it out when/if you come this way. Also, another tip. If you think you might get seasick on a big boat. . . buy and take the seasick meds. I didn't really think I would get sick, but we all decided to take the meds. If you wait to take them when you get sick. . . it takes longer for them to work. Tab has gotten seasick before so he wanted to take it anyway. He said at one point he still got a little queasy, but didn't get sick. The rest of us did fine. So. . . take it before you get sick and you can enjoy your entire cruise. One woman at our table was sick the entire cruise. And she had taken the meds, but she still got sick. That couple was from Minnesota and two others at our table were from Israel. We had a great time talking and visiting with these people. . . unlike the screaming woman from up front.

It was a great day. We had great weather and a sunny day. . . perfect for our outing. Today is misty and gray, which is more typical of the weather in Seward. We are going to the sealife center today and do a little shopping in town. Seward actually has a quaint little shopping district and we want to check it out. Tomorrow we head back up to Anchorage for the night before heading on to Valdez. Hard to believe our trip in Alaska is winding down. We still have lots to do and see, including the ferry down through the Inside Passage. That promises to be a really great trip as well. Once we start that, however, we will end our voyage in Canada and we will be heading across country back to Indiana.

Till next time. . .


1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Loved your pictures and description of the boat tour. We have done that same one both times that we have cruised to Alaska and it was wonderful. Our daughter also became seasick even while wearing one of those prescription patches. She did better when we took her outside in the fresh (cold) air and she could see where she was going.